Some two and a half years after they were transitioned out of the Middle East, many for needed upgrades, and some for use in the Pacific, the United States has deployed B-1B Lancer bombers back to the Middle East. The exact number has yet to be disclosed.
The B1-B bombers are taking over strike missions from the aging B-52 Stratofortress bombers, which had been used in the Middle East in recent years. It’s unclear if all of the B-52s are being removed from the Middle East, but some are being sent to Guam to join the Pacific theater.
The newly arrived Lancers are deployed at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. Though the number of US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria are on the decline, airstrikes in Afghanistan are on a significant upswing. The B1-B is generally considered the preferred warplane for “surgical” strikes.
In the past year, most of the focus of the B1-B was on its presence in Guam, and its expected use in any US attack on North Korea. The planes conducted several simulated attacks and general shows of force. With diplomacy now the focus in North Korea, such overflights are no longer being carried out regularly.